Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Authentication

There is a process and means by which it is accomplished — as in authenticating a painting or an antique piece of furniture, jewelry, etc.; of an autograph or handwritten letter (although, many will say that in the field of forensic sciences, handwritten analysis is far from reaching a vaunted level of precision or reliability); of a pet’s pedigree or even of a person’s right to have access to sensitive information, etc.

Authentication is thus a process of verification, of identifying X as being Not-Y in many instances, where exclusion by elimination of other possibilities results in the declaration of the genuineness of the person or thing declared to be so.

When applied to an object, it inspects and compares against other objects within a historical context, style, peculiar features of an artisan’s eccentricities, period-characteristics and signature features, etc.  When applied to an individual, it may take into account physical features as well (appearance; finger prints; voice matching; DNA sample, etc.), but could also encompass questions posed and answers given, and depending upon the comparison to known archives of historical background checks made against statements previously provided, deem that an “authentication” has been reached concerning the “true” identity of an individual, akin to declaring that a painting previously unverified is in fact a product of this or that “Master”, or that an antique furniture piece was the craftsmanship of some famous cabinetmaker during the Jeffersonian Renaissance period or from some pop-culture minimalist timeframe during the early Sixties, etc.

The process of “authentication”, of course, can be distinguished from whether or not an individual is living an “authentic life”, as well, and here, the meanings become somewhat muddled and divided.  One can be “authenticated” and be allowed access to sensitive banking information, be allowed to use a credit card, write a check, etc., and still live an inauthentic life (e.g., act like someone you are not, present yourself as a “family man” despite all the while committing multiple affairs; live a double or triple or even a quadruple life and deceive everyone around, etc.).

The process in reaching a conclusion as to whether a person is living an authentic or inauthentic life is somewhat different from “authenticating” a person.  For, to engage in the former analysis, it is normally done for the most part as a self-analysis (i.e., only the person who is living an inauthentic life can know for certain whether it is so or not), whereas the methodology imposed of “authenticating” a period-piece or an individual (the latter) is by applying a more objective standard of comparative review.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual issues of “authentication” and “authentic living” come to the fore, precisely because the Federal or Postal employee becomes forced into behaving in rather inauthentic ways.

Hiding the medical condition; trying desperately to work through the debilitating symptoms and maintaining an appearance of normalcy; and all the while trying to force a consistency between one’s capacity and the watchful eyes of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these are the elements that challenge the authenticity of one’s life.

Living an authentic life under normal circumstances is difficult enough; trying to authenticate one’s capacity to continue “as is” in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition makes it all the more challenging.  It may be that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the only way forward in forging an authentic pathway away from an inauthentic morass that the medical condition has forced upon you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Just another bystander

There are primary characters, ancillary or peripheral personalities – and just another bystander.  Similarly, in personal relationships taken from a subjective “I” viewpoint, there are “close family members” (i.e., normally identified as the core within a nuclear family), “extended family”, and then there are “friends and acquaintances” — and just pure strangers.  Of course, the Internet, Facebook and other electronic devices have somewhat changed and altered the landscape of such relational directions, but we still know what it means to generally be “just another bystander”: to be out of the proverbial “loop” and perhaps observe, but otherwise uninvolved in the lives of those around, passing by or in the midst of a crisis developing.

Thus, when an accident occurs, a tragedy unfolds or a crisis develops, there are those who are referred to as “just another bystander”.  Or, if by tragic circumstances, that “bystander” becomes a victim either by happenstance or through “collateral” damage wrought upon surrounding neighborhoods, people, etc., we may refer to that person as an “innocent bystander” – as if the imputed adjective adds something more appropriate to engender empathy or description of haphazard events by which people can be randomly hurt.

Or, if intervention or interference imposes upon a situation by events unfolding, such an identification may be referred to in the past tense, as in, “He was just another bystander when event X occurred, and then he ran into the melee and helped the victims by…” In other words, by becoming “involved”, person X absolved himself by his very actions and thereby negated his prior status as a “bystander”, innocent or not.

The fact is, most of us are bystanders for most days of our lives; we walk through neighborhoods, streets and buildings inhabited by others, where others are engaging in commerce, relationships and interaction of daily living, and others, as well, are mere bystanders as they walk past us and bypassing our subjective interludes.  We expect others to maintain that status unless otherwise needed, and we retain with comfort such status in the courteous behavior towards strangers otherwise unnecessary for further interaction.  The problem becomes when we become bystanders within the role of our own lives.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, remaining a bystander when it is necessary to become an integral part in determining your own future is often a problem of self-will.  Watching the lives of others pass by is one thing; watching your own life pass by means that you are just another bystander when being a bystander is not the appropriate role to play.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the necessary next and proactive step in determining the future outcome of events unfolding. The medical condition you suffer from is already the “event”; what you do next will determine whether you are the primary character or a bystander – or, worse, an “innocent bystander” who then is referred to in the past tense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Redshirt

In athletic parlance, it refers to an individual and a status, allowing for a fifth year of eligibility when the rules mandate a restriction to a four-year period.  The word itself is quite malleable, and reflects well the technicality involved in avoiding the direct letter of the language.  Being a redshirt (noun), a redshirt freshman (adjective) or redshirted in his first year (verb) reveals to us the capacity of language to jump like grammatical forms of hopscotching that amazes and intrigues; and the cautionary prelude to a wink-and-a-nod is prefaced with, “You are being too literal”.

It only proves the point, doesn’t it — of the age-old adage that rules are created with the intent of being broken; or, at least bent in order to fit?  For, once such rules were imposed in order to allow for “fairness” in collegiate sports, the “legal technicians” (i.e., lawyers) went immediately to work upon coming up with novel interpretations, strategies for avoidance, and advice to extend beyond what the limitations allowed.

“Redshirting” was one of the devised methodologies – of allowing for everything up to the critical line of demarcation:  that of playing in a game itself.  Thus, the redshirt can practice with the team throughout that entire year of eligibility, but such actions do not count; the redshirted freshman can attend classes, be a full-fledged partner in the “college life”, and yet his participation is not marked against him or her; and to be redshirted in that year of eligibility allows for growth, maturity, advancement in development – all without “using up” a year of eligibility by being sacked a hundred times during the season and becoming a shattered soul devoid of self-confidence and losing assurance of one’s talents and skills.

It is, within the athletic community of college consortiums, a brilliant strategy to deftly avoid the burden of rules; for the greater society, it reflects the essence of what is wrong, precisely because it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the literal language of the rules.  Yet, that is true of almost everything in life, is it not?

Careful study; identifying the loopholes; then initiating the strategy to maneuver around landmines and obstacles.  Is it any different than a hunting party tracking a prey, sniffing out the signs of predatory confirmation and taking in information and adapting accordingly?  Rules, regulations and laws may well be designed, initially, at least, to address a specific problem; and, out of the cauldron of an enacted statutes, comes multiple other problems and issues because of the malleability of words and imprecise linguistic pauses.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  It is a necessary prerequisite to identify the legal language of eligibility; define the issues; identify whether or not the Federal or Postal employee considering such an option “fits into” the legal criteria circumscribed; then to proceed to “redshirt” one’s own situation and devise a methodology for eligibility.

Compiling the evidence, formulating the proper narrative, and presenting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can thus be likened to the redshirting of a freshman – in order to extend one’s life beyond the debilitating medical conditions otherwise shortening the career of a promising Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Of August Reminders

As an adjective, the accent is placed upon the second syllable, and recalls of supreme dignity and grandeur, with images of a Roman Centurion with his breastplate shining in the full sun of power and prestige.  As a noun, it is the doldrums of the eighth month, but where a breath of coolness always invades and reminds us of the possibilities, and of the coming winter still to arrive.

The inflection upon the first syllable makes all the difference; yet, the word remains the same, and only the harkening echo of a meaning concealed by mere intonation of voice.  What reminds of possibilities yet to be revealed?  Do smells, sounds and memories of potentialities unseen but foretold by parents, uncles and relatives, of the limitless anticipation of a world still before us?  Or of that cool respite, when the heat of summer turns suddenly a winter’s reminder, and allows us to bask in the sweat of our own memories, when toil was but a lazy dream in the midst of shadows by the stream’s edge?

There are times in life when possibilities seem endless, and the potentiality for happiness, joy, and sheer pleasure are limitless but for the darkness of our inner essences; when childhood memories once granted the wishes of a butterfly’s dream, and love was still the scent of flowers yet blooming in the valley below. But life tends to intrude and intercede; interruptions of august dreams in the doldrums of August nights; but for us, dreams are the escape from the reality of today, where tomorrow only brings sorrows but for lonely nights where the unity of solitude interrupts the daily grind of reality.

We never could precisely pinpoint when childhood ended; only, that adulthood “is”, and forever was.  Those summer dreams when the first kiss awoke our inner stirrings; when innocence was lost forever; and, somehow, we grew up with august reminders in those lazy August days when the fireflies died, and darkness enveloped the universe of possibilities.  There will still be days when we believe in ourselves; but as lives pass by, we watch and listen, and rarely see.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the heat of summer’s suffocating dawns, those few days when the blast of reminders come our way, we relish and believe that the August doldrums are now behind us, only to realized that the days ahead will still embrace the sweat and toil of endless streams of treadmill repetitions.

When a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal worker’s positional duties, it is time to harken back to the days when august thoughts pervaded, and leave behind the August doldrums of sweat-filled concerns.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option left as a reminder that August is the month of possibilities yet unfulfilled, and where august thoughts must emphasize the syllable following the doldrums of past reflections.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Superiority in light of misfortune

Why is it that we delight in the misfortune of others?  Is it a perversity of defective character, like a genetic malformation of deviancy magnified by exponential proportions within the essence of man?  Or, is it that, by comparative analysis and contrasting the parallel states of being, we can elevate our own estimation of worth by pointing to the relative denigration of our neighbor?

Certainly, we proffer the words of appropriate opprobrium; “I feel badly for X”; “I get no joy out of hearing that,” and similarly innocuous statements of hypocritical emptiness.  But we liken the principle of action/reaction, downward trend/upward spectrum, and similar opposites to reflect the superiority of our own circumstances.  “Here by the grace of…”  Is that why the “herd mentality” and the predatory instinct of running with a pack of wild dogs from whence it arises?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer the indignation and daily harassment at the hands of agency coworkers, Managers, Supervisors, and those who were once considered “workplace associates”, and further fine-tuned and magnified in the hostile milieu of the Postal Service, the daily encounter with pure meanness and focused unpleasantries is experienced pervasively by the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal and Postal employee from performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Why, when the medical condition itself should empower one with greater empathy, a higher reception of closeness and affinity, does the very opposite phenomena take place?  The superiority of others in light of one’s misfortune speaks ill of the human essence.

That is why, in the end, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an important step to take for the Federal or Postal employee, precisely because it allows for a “new beginning“, a “step forward”, and all of the cliched foundations in order to escape the greatest delusional cliche of all:  Superiority in light of another’s misfortune, when in fact nothing has changed, either for the one who feels better, nor for the other who suffers, except that the perversity of man is merely reinforced with a deserved reputation for cruelty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The Negative Interest Rate

In periods of economic stagnation, where mass hoarding by depositors results in a slow-down of commercial activity, rising unemployment and deflationary returns on value-for purchase in all sectors, the idea that depositors must not only deposit, but further, pay regularly to keep their money with the bank, would at first glimpse appear counterintuitive.

Perhaps that was initially the brain-child of some half-crazed Economist — that one with the frizzy hair appearing on Sunday Shows who had won the Nobel Prize for Economics many decades ago because no one quite understood what he was talking about, and believed that such insanity was either too brilliant to bypass or, more likely, to fail to appear as if one understood it would be to reveal one’s own ignorance and mediocrity (remember Schopenhauer’s adage:  “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, while genius hits a target no one else can see”).  And so it goes.

The problem with unworkable theoretical constructs, however, is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences.  In reality, the concept of “negative interest rate” is one which most people have to live with, anyway.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, this is a daily occurrence — especially for those who have a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

For, like the concept of the negative rate of return, the Federal and Postal worker must not only go to work, but continue to pay for it with their deteriorating health.  Additionally, the increasing harassment, adverse actions and diminishing joy in working with hostile coworkers, managers and supervisors, must be borne with a smile and silent acquiescence, as if the feudal backdrops of self-flagellation must be enjoyed within the caverns of psychosis in suffering.

The negative interest rate for Federal and Postal employees is thus nothing new; it is a theoretical model for all Federal and Postal employees who suffer under the suffocating malaise of a deteriorating medical condition.  The real question is:  At what rate of negative returns does the Federal or Postal employee withdraw the deposit?  For, in pursuing this analogy, it is precisely that critical point where money-kept and money-lost reach a pinnacle of insufferable choices, when the Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, when the interest charged begins to eat away at the very principal which is invested, and the rate of return negates the benefit of remaining, then it is indeed time to withdraw the deposit, and begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, lest the negative interest rate which once, long ago, began as a theoretical construct in the basement of a mad economist, but which now pervades the ivory towers of polite academia with echoes of reverberating laughter once resounding from the insane asylum next door, begins to infect the four corners of a civilization which has lost its way.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire